Sunday, August 24, 2003

Let's Talk

Readers respond on the week's hot topic

Is the Catholic Church doing enough to address the problem of sexual abuse by members of the clergy? That's the question we posed to readers last week. Here are some of the responses we received:

Hand over offenders to civil authorities

I do not think the Catholic Church is doing enough to address the problem of sexual abuse by members of the clergy. As a Catholic, I am appalled by the way the church is handling this situation. Instead of actively supporting the victims and prosecuting these criminal priests, the church appears to be trying to minimize the entire situation. The offending clergy should not be active in the church at all, but handed over to civil authorities.

Marianne Gorman, Fairfield

Church has alienated this former member

Is the Catholic Church doing enough? No. I come from several generations of Catholics. I no longer attend the Catholic Church. I have become disillusioned, like many, with its antiquated ideas. Now we have the "dirty little secret" of sex abuse among priests.

Religion has always served as a moral compass. We need this more than ever. However, I cannot accept morality from a church that hides and condones such behavior while supporting bringing unwanted children into the world to lives of poverty and abuse, pressuring couples to stay in abusive relationships, etc. The hierarchy needs to practice what they preach, confess their sins, do penance and move toward being good, honest, caring people.

Sandra K. Bowman, Fort Thomas

Many who claim to be Catholic aren't

It should be very enlightening when a school that is going to offer a Catholic education causes a stir. Why should it cause a stir? Aren't all schools that claim to be Catholic teaching the faith? No. Parents are paying for something they are not getting. Rather than teaching Catholicism, they are teaching socialism. Their dress codes are appalling, most times worse than public schools. The parents are to blame for this. No wonder there are abuses when no morals are taught anymore. Many people call themselves Catholic but don't know the first thing about being Catholic.

The Catholic Church has laws, which you have to abide by. If you don't, you are not Catholic. Some people blame loss of faith on abuses, but priests who would do such things lost their faith long ago or never had it in the first place.

Doloris Ritze, Colerain Township

Priest, not newspaper, knows church best

I am not sure whether I should be amused or annoyed at the attack against the Catholic Church in the Aug. 17 Forum section. Somehow the thought of a secular newspaper defining Catholicism just doesn't sit right. At any rate, I would like to make a few observations that might help.

I am a Catholic priest today because I am sure I know what Jesus taught 2,000 years ago. If I had the slightest doubt, I would never have entered religious life. How do I know? I have the infallible teachings of the Catholic Church to tell me. In founding the church Jesus said, "Thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church. I give to you the keys of the kingdom."

That is all I have ever needed. Christ's delegation to Peter to teach and govern are means given to avoid any fundamental change in the message. There is no other church that has that mandate. Witness the chaos in Protestant churches today with their private interpretation of the Bible.

Thank heavens for the letter "Voice of Faithful just some dissidents" [Aug. 17]. The writer's assessment of VOTF is right on target. It is the church's adherence to the fundamental doctrines of Jesus that make it so unpopular today. Jesus got crucified. It seems that the same is happening to his church today. I do, however, have one assurance: "The gates of hell shall not prevail against it."

Fr. Celsus Griese, O.F.M., Springfield Township

Punish guilty, but keep the priesthood

I was born and raised in a time of innocence before World War II, when Catholics held their priests in awe. Now with some maturity and a bit of wisdom, I can see that our priests are human too and are sinners like the rest of us. It is terrible that it takes clerical abuse of children to drive this home. I have known many priests over my lifetime, many of whom were very holy men with service to the church and to God as their purpose. However, I have also known some where adjectives to describe them could not be printed in this letter.

Priests who are pedophiles should be held accountable for their crimes, as they have sinned against the most innocent of people. The bishops should be held accountable for their cover-ups because they have sinned against us by shuffling them around. But I am not ready to give up on the priesthood.

Carl Braun, Delhi Township

Angry or not, ourfaith sustains us

The question of whether the Catholic Church is doing enough to address sexual abuse is one that hits close to the hearts of all Catholics. My thoughts go out to all who have had their faith and trust shaken by the priests that they held in high esteem.

Am I ashamed of what has been happening in the Church? Yes. Am I angry with the Church? You bet I am. I will continue as a Catholic because my faith is strong. I know many priests out there that are good, dedicated men of God, and they are just as ashamed of the pedophile priests as I am.

The real story is what was done after the abuse was reported. I am filled with anger and disgust that priests and bishops had knowledge of pedophile priest abuse and didn't report the crimes. Then they passed them on to other parishes, and it happened again and again. The priests that knew and did not report these crimes deserve our disrespect and condemnation. I believe they should be held accountable. I have no problem sending these hypocrites to jail.

Kathy Kauffman, Green Township

Church has to take more responsible role

Thank you for the article in the Aug. 17 Enquirer about sexual abuse by members of the clergy. I attended the lecture of Dr. Jim Muller at St. Francis DeSales Church and was impressed with what he has done. The archbishop should see that every parish hears what he has said. Like Muller, I love my church, but it has not done enough to address this evil. Paying out millions to keep it quiet is not the way to address it.

Mary Lou Busam, Symmes Township

Public admission, repentance needed

Priests, by their very calling, have assumed the responsibility of becoming the shepherds of the flock, our spiritual leaders. And since they have publicly dedicated their lives to the service of the Church, we expect them to be beacons for us to follow in our daily imitation of Christ. So, when our priests sin, we are rightfully scandalized. And through the grace of God, most of us try our best to forgive them, yet demand that they be removed from any further contact with potential victims of their behavior.

The greater sin in the Catholic Church today is the inexcusable cover-up and harboring of these criminals by their bishops. This is the issue that needs to be addressed and resolved for our church to heal. We need a public admission and repentance by those bishops who are guilty of such crimes. Until that happens, our wounds will continue to fester.

Jim Kamphaus, Guardian Angels Church, Mount Washington

Laity needs educationin Church teachings

I believe our Church should make a swift return to the orthodox and cast aside the urge to deconstruct the Church teachings. The Church should remove malfeasant, incompetent or unorthodox priests and bishops and replace these with men who have the courage to be Catholic. These priests and bishops then need to educate (or re-educate) the laity to the teachings of the Church. Sadly, so many Catholics today know very little about what it means to be Catholic.

For example, in the same Forum section was the letter "Female voices need to be heard by church." I urge the writer to read Pope John Paul II's letter to women, written June 29, 1995. In it he clearly recognizes the role of women in the church and the salvation of the world. Unfortunately, many Catholics do not hear the voice of our Holy Father. It is the responsibility of our bishops and priests to make these teachings known. There are many Catholics in Greater Cincinnati who believe as I do. I wish the Enquirer would include these voices when reporting on the Church.

Catherine Ampfer, Fort Thomas

Church's apologies are still missing

My biggest disappointment with the Catholic Church, especially the leaders of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, is that there seems to be very little concern or remorse for the victims of this abuse. No apologies are ever issued. Nor any admit of wrongdoing. When victims file suit, or seek attention for the formation of support groups, the Archdiocese claims they are creating a "media circus." I honestly feel that if the media hadn't began reporting about the abuse, we may still never know it occurred.

Our power now is knowledge. We now know that when abuse occurs to report it immediately to the proper authorities, the police, and let our court system handle it. That way, everyone's rights will be protected. This is unlike the old archdiocesan policy where the victims are guilty, while the priests are considered innocent.

Mary P. Sunderhaus, Price Hill

Church needs change; we can all be involved

The Catholic Church has a wonderfully diverse membership. We are black and white, male and female, gay and straight, liberal and conservative, old and young. Yet, we are a family defined by our common calling to Christ through our baptism and the sacraments. Like many families, there are members who disagree but that don't make us less a family. It makes us human. And as in a family, every member has the right to be heard, considered and taken seriously.

Calls to restructure our church's governance can sound disturbing and even anti-Catholic. It's like putting antiseptic on a wound: it's painful and no one actually enjoys it, but for proper healing it has to be done. Open and honest discussion about our church and its governance has to happen. There's nothing holy or sacred about governance. People are holy and the church is sacred; governance is just a practical way of managing our God-given abilities, resources and responsibilities.

Change is often uncomfortable. It accentuates our fears and exposes our vulnerabilities. But change is unavoidable.

Steve Bogner, Anderson Township

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